Thursday, November 29, 2012

Republican Voters are Key

The race to replace the late Sen. Gallegos is in full swing in Houston.  There are three announced candidates:  State Rep. Carol Alvarado; R. W. Bray, the Republican nominee in the November 6 general election posthumously won by Sen. Gallegos; and former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia.  Two other significant players are considering the race:  Col. Rick Noriega, the Democratic nominee for the U. S. Senate in 2008; and HCC Trustee Yolanda Navarro Flores.  Flores received 46.07% of the vote when she ran against Sen. Gallegos in the 2004 Democratic primary.

It is my understanding that Gov. Perry is planning to canvas the votes of the November general election on December 6.  The canvas will trigger the vacancy and start the 20-day time period for the Governor to issue a writ of election.  The election must be held on a Tuesday or Saturday between 21 and 45 days after the Governor orders the election.

At this point, the likely date for the election appears to be January 22, although it could be as late as February 5.

The Governor’s writ of election will also set the deadline for candidates to file to run in the special election.  Texas Election Code Sec. 201.054(a) requires that the filing period be at least five days.  Candidates will all be listed on the same ballot, although they will have a D or an R after their name.

The two clear frontrunners are Rep. Alvarado and Comm. Garcia.  They are evenly matched and equally credentialed Democrats.    The outstanding question is whether a runoff will be necessary to determine the winner because neither Alvarado or Garcia receives more than 50% of the vote in the election.

Although Senate District 6 is heavily Democratic, there are pockets of Republican vote comprising about 30% to 35% of the electorate.  Rep. Wayne Smith, for example, resides in SD 6.  I expect that 5 or more candidates will ultimately file to run in the SD 6 special election, and that Republican voters will not support either Alvarado or Garcia in the first round.  The number of candidates running plus the Republican vote will likely require a runoff between Alvarado and Garcia.

It is ironic that in this heavily Democratic district, there will be an opportunity for the Republican voters to determine the runoff winner.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Procedure for Expedited Election to Replace Sen. Gallegos

Sen. Gallegos passed away last month, but his name remained on the ballot because the deadline to remove it had passed.  The Senator was posthumously reelected on November 6 receiving 70.94% of the vote to 29.05% for Republican nominee R. W. Bray.  Under Texas law, the votes cast for Sen. Gallegos count and a vacancy in Senate District 6 (SD 6) occurs when the votes are canvassed.  Texas Election Code Sec. 145.005.  All Sec. references hereafter are to the Texas Election Code unless otherwise noted.

Gov. Perry must conduct the state canvas for the November 6 election no earlier than November 21 and no later than December 6.  Sec. 67.012.  After the canvas, Gov. Perry must call a special election within 20 days to fill the vacancy in SD 6.  Texas Constitution Article III, Section 13.

Because the vacancy occurs within 60 days of the convening of the 83rd Legislature, the special election is an expedited election.  Sec. 203.013.  An expedited election must be held on a Tuesday or Saturday between 21 and 45 days after the date the election is ordered.  The Texas Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act does not apply to this election.  Sec. 101.104.

Candidates will all be listed on the same ballot, although they will have a D or an R after their name.  The canvas of the special election results occurs between 8 and 11 days after the election.  Sec. 67.003.  If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in the special election, the Governor orders a runoff election.  Sec. 3.003.  The runoff election must be held within 25 days of the Governor’s ordering the election on a Tuesday or Saturday.  Sec. 203.013.

Already announced candidates for the SD 6 special election include Rep. Carol Alvarado, Mr. R. W. Bray and Comm. Sylvia Garcia.  Col. Rick Noriega is also contemplating the race, and I ultimately expect 5 or more candidates on the ballot.  A runoff is a virtual certainty.  The following is my calculation of the earliest and the latest date for this decisive runoff.

Earliest scenario:  If the canvas occurs November 21 and the Governor issues a writ of election the same day, the special election could be held Saturday, December 15.  The local canvas could occur December 26, and the runoff election could be set for January 8.

Latest scenario:  If the canvas occurs December 6, the Governor could issue the writ of election on December 26.  The election could be called for February 5.  If the local canvas then occurs February 15, the Governor could wait until March 6 to order a March 30 runoff election.

Summary:  The SD 6 special election could occur as soon as December 15 or as late as February 5.  The runoff could occur as soon as January 8 or as late as March 30.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Early Vote Analysis

An reputable analysis of early vote for competitive races in Texas shows the following partisan affiliation of the early voters.

HD 23
Wayne Faircloth
Rep. Craig Eiland
HD 34
Rep. Connie Scott
Abel Herrero
HD 45
Rep. Jason Isaac
John Adams
HD 54
Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock
Claudia Brown
HD 78
Rep. Dee Margo
Joe Moody
HD 102
Rep. Stefani Carter
Rich Hancock
HD 105
Rep. Linda Harper Brown
Rosemary Robbins
HD 107
Rep. Kenneth Sheets
Robert Miklos
HD 114
Jason Villalba
Carol Kent
HD 117
Rep. John Garza
Philip Cortez
HD 134
Rep. Sarah Davis
Ann Johnson
HD 136
Tony Dale
Matt Stillwell
HD 144
David Pineda
Mary Ann Perez
HD 149
Dianne Williams
Rep. Hubert Vo
SD 10
Dr. Mark Shelton
Sen. Wendy Davis
CD 14
Rep. Randy Weber
Nick Lampson

I do not have good data on HD 43 (Lozano) or CD 23 (Canseco).

It is about what I expected.  The Democrats appear poised to pick the following Republican seats:  Scott; Margo; Garza; and Pineda (Legler).  Assuming that Sen. Davis is receiving some crossover Republican vote, that race is going to be as close as expected.  However, Dr. Shelton has got to be happy with what he is seeing.  The Weber/Lampson race is going to go down to the wire.

Election Day is Finally Here!

The voting phase of the 2012 election comes to a close today.  Hopefully, the presidential results will be clear cut, and the inevitable post-election litigation phase will be brief.

The popular vote for president appears razor close, although polls show President Obama with an edge in the Electoral College.  At this point, I would give the President a 70% chance of reelection and Governor Romney a 30% chance.  However, there was also a 30% chance of rain last Saturday for my son’s soccer game, and it was rained out!

The Democrats are expected to retain control of the U. S. Senate, and the Republicans control of the U. S. House.  If so, 2012 will be a status quo election after 3 national wave elections in a row in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

In Texas, all eyes will be on the state senate race in Fort Worth between Sen. Wendy Davis and Rep. Mark Shelton.  A Shelton win would give the Republicans a 2/3rds majority in the Texas Senate until the Gallegos vacancy is filled.  In the Texas House, the Republicans are expected to remain firmly in control with +/- 95 seats.

There are a number of interesting local referendums around the state, such as the proposition to establish a medical school in Austin; the METRO referendum in Houston; and the pre-K referendum in San Antonio.

Early voting has been heavy in most areas of Texas.  When the early vote results are released shortly after 7 p.m., we will be able to call many of the Texas races and referenda.  Stay tuned, and if you haven’t already done so, go vote!